One need only turn to the conflict-ridden history of the 20th century to support this concept. For example, generations X and Y faced the uneasy task of defusing the Cold War, which was sparked by the Silent Generation and arguably worsened by Baby Boomers. This raises the question of what issues we, generations Y and Z, have been – and will be burdened with.
Given the world’s current political climate, it’s fair to say that we have a plethora of options to choose from. However, one of the most pressing is the looming threat of climate change.
Don’t get me wrong, we all contribute to rising sea levels and increasing carbon emissions, but the present seriousness of the issue can be traced back to the decisions of past generations.
New Zealand is a prime example of this. For instance, while we pride ourselves on the notion that we’re a ‘clean and green’ country, this perception arguably comes down to the fact that comparatively we’re a very young country and have had less time to ruin our natural resources. However, in the short time that we have had, we’ve done a remarkably good job of doing just that.
In 2012 alone, New Zealand contributed 1 per cent of global carbon emissions. While initially this doesn’t sound too alarming, when you consider the fact that we ranked number 12 for global emissions per capita, and are currently the 5th most polluting country in the developed world, that ‘clean, green’ image starts to look a bit tarnished.
If a country of our size is generating is polluting the planet at the same rate per capita as countries like America and China, we need to start thinking more critically about our actions. Though we’re arguably at the point of no return in some respects, it’s possible that by living more sustainably we can slow down these adverse effects.
I’m not necessarily suggesting that everyone boycotts the use of cars and stops eating meat – although animal agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to climate change – but that people make small steps towards a more sustainable future. Whether it be in the form of walking to work once a week, or eating vegetarian once a week, it all counts.
When I began writing this piece I told myself I wouldn’t get political about it, but ultimately one of the most effective ways to counter the effects of climate change is to ensure that we have a government that prioritises the environment.
While there are various issues that will be at the forefront of this year’s election, I encourage you to consider each party’s stance, if they have one, on climate change. For instance, the current government has no initiative in place to reduce pollution levels, an obvious contributor to climate change. How are we expected to impose change when the country’s leaders barely even acknowledge that there’s an issue worth changing?
Author: Harry Reid
Hi – my name is Harry Reid. I’m eighteen years old, and I’m originally from Greytown in the Wairarapa – which is approximately an hour out of Wellington. I’m the youngest of three children, with a twenty-year old brother and a twenty-two-year old sister. After finishing Wellington High last year I’m now in my first year at the University of Otago, doing a double degree in Law and Arts, with my Arts Major either being Communications or Politics – and whichever one I decide against will become my Minor. Some of my interests outside of University include photography, socializing with friends and keeping up with current affairs– among other things. Over the coming weeks I’m going to share with you some of my experiences (both good and bad) in my weekly blog. Feel free to follow my Instagram @harrrryreid for a more personalised view of what I’m up to!